From its postcard-pretty streets to its oldy-worldy charm, heavenly pasteis de nata and wonderful fresh seafood, Lisbon has it all. Add to that a mild climate, a generous serve of sunshine, frighteningly affordable wine, and great surf beaches, and you’ll probably agree it ticks all the boxes. A weekend break will have you in love with the city as you scratch its surface and leave wanting more. Here’s how to spend 48 hours in the city…
Porto Bay Marques is a contemporary hotel with everything you need — including a sauna, gym and small rooftop pool — that’s in easy walking distance of the main districts of the city. If you’re looking for something a little more luxe and central, Memmo Alfama is a striking, design-focused boutique in the heart of Alfama. For something more authentic and boutique, try Palacio Ramalhete.
See + Do
Strolling through the Alfama is the perfect way to work off that food. Easily the most charming, picture-perfect part of Lisbon, it’s a maze of steep narrow, cobbled streets that wind up the hill from the Tejo estuary to the castle at the top. Course, you could hop on the 28 bus right all the way (those streets are quite the workout!) but you miss the joy of getting lost in the backstreets and stopping to admire the view from Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. Go with a charged camera in hand because there’s no shortage of photo opportunities around here.
Hop on the tram to the charming, sleepy neighbourhood of Belem. Join the few locals and the hoards of tourists who’ve made a pilgrimage this way for best custard tarts in the city. Pasteis de Belem have been making their famous pasteis de nata since 1837, and those years of experience show. Small, sweet, dangerously light bites of custard heaven with a delicate crisp case are the talk of the town and live up to the hype. You can drool at the very thought. Have a couple here, warm, with an espresso, then line up and get a box of 6 to take home. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t.
Jose Avillez has the double Michelin starred restaurant, Belcanto, here in Lisbon, but if you can’t get a table or can’t justify that, make a beeline for Páteo, his more relaxed (though perfectly fancy!) seafood-focused restaurant in Bairro do Avillez. With beautiful interiors, great wine, and impeccable seafood (get the seabass!), there’s no better spot for lunch in the city.
A Cevecheria, is a tiny little place and a hit with the locals. It’s got a no-bookings policy so go early, around 7pm-ish and/or expect a queue. The best seats in the house are up at the kitchen bar so you can watch the chefs lovingly ‘craft’ each colourful dish. As the name suggests, it’s all about ceviche.
An unused industrial estate just off the main road from Belem to the city has been transformed into a street of bars, boutiques and restaurants. Of those, 1300 Taberna is the best place for local cuisine and some great Portuguese flavours. For something hearty, authentic and comforting, the octopus rice is excellent. There are some great local craft beers on the menu too.
Park Bar is a relaxed, rooftop bar that’s so unassuming you’ll never find it if you’re not in the know. Perched atop a standard multi-storey car park, just follow the levels up and up and up till you reach it, then kick back with an Aperol Spritz and soak in the epic view.
Time Out Market is a gourmet food court opened in May 2014 and has been a hit ever since for both locals and visitors of all ages. In the grand undercover market hall, 35 kiosks sell all sorts of ready-to-eat regional specialities; and with plenty of tables and benches, it’s the ideal spot for either a light snack or a meal. For a little something that’s typically Portuguese, try some salted cod fish cakes with a local dry white wine. Delicious.